Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Pete Claussen, April 25, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Start of career at TVA / TVA and the environment

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Partial Transcript: The following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen describes his career trajectory as an attorney at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Claussen briefly describes the hiring process of the TVA, as well as his first assignment at the TVA. Additionally, Claussen discusses his work with environmental compliance at TVA in the late 1960s, during which pressure was put on TVA from other federal agencies to adhere to compliance with federal environmental laws. The atmosphere at TVA during this time is characterized.

Keywords: Assignments; Assistants; Board; Careers; Clean Air Act; Condemnation lawyers; Control; Environment; Environmental laws; Environmental movement; Federal agencies; General Council for Environment; Hired; Hiring; Impact statements; Issues; Judges; Letters; Missions; National Environmental Policy Act; Obligations; Regional improvement; Rutgers Law School; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unexempted; Water law

Subjects: Chicago and North Western Transportation Company; Interviews; Lawyers; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee Valley Authority; United States. Department of Justice; Water quality; Work

00:06:31 - Mining regulations of TVA

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Partial Transcript: And--uh--TVA self-imposed some limitations on--uh--on where it would mine.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen explains how federal environmental laws impacted the self-regulation of the TVA in relation to mining standards. Examples of self-imposed measures created by the TVA are detailed.

Keywords: Adjustments; Clients; Enforcement; Environmental impact statement; Environmental laws; Federal mining laws; Mining; Slope limitations; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Coal; Compliance; Lawyers; Purchasing; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:08:01 - Changes to TVA environmental structure

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Partial Transcript: Well, what--uh--changes occurred--uh--when you began that position or shortly after, with regard to environmental?

Segment Synopsis: Claussen continues to examine how the TVA changed internally in response to both the environmental movement of the 1960s and the federal laws that accompanied these societal changes.

Keywords: Actions; Assessment; Board members; Changes; Environmental group; Environmental impact statements; Environmental laws; Environmental movement; Reservoir projects; Reviews; Substations; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Chattanooga (Tenn.); Columbia Dam (Tenn.); Knoxville (Tenn.); Lawyers; Society; Tennessee Valley Authority

GPS: Columbia Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.615022, -87.044464
00:11:22 - Work at Tributary Area Development

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Partial Transcript: When you went to Tributary Area Development, tell me a little bit about what that was?

Segment Synopsis: Claussen highlights some of the most important projects he oversaw during his time spent in the Office of Tributary Area Development within the TVA. Claussen emphasizes the contribution of the TVA in the expansion of government services in rural counties.

Keywords: 1970s energy crisis; Bus and van pooling; City managers; Client relationships; Federal agencies; Field locations; Flood protection; Government services; Ideas; Innovative; Junk car project; Junk cars; Legal department; Managers; Normandy (Tenn.); Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Operations; Organizations; Projects; Resale; Rural improvement; Supervisors; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Asheville (N.C.); Athens (Tenn.); Columbia Dam (Tenn.); County government; Employees; Floods; Gas; Lawyers; Money; Profit; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Vans; Watersheds; Zoning

GPS: Columbia Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.615022, -87.044464
GPS: Normandy (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.452222, -86.258611
00:17:28 - Projects of Tributary Area Development continued

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--what are some of the other projects that--uh--T--uh--Tributary Area Development got involved with?

Segment Synopsis: Claussen elaborates upon the role of Tributary Area Development and TVA in expanding the services offered by rural county governments. Projects include garbage collection centers and rural fire protection initiatives.

Keywords: Agencies; Arrests; Computing; Convenience Centers; County governments; Development districts; Dumpsters; East Tennessee; Garbage; Garbage collection; Limited; Littering; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Public services; Recycling; Rural fire protection; Rural services; Successful; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tension; Watershed boundaries

Subjects: Courts; Fire; Lawyers; Money; Rural; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work

00:21:17 - Relocation of Clinchport, Virginia

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Partial Transcript: The--uh--uh--one project that--uh--I've heard about, I think it might have been when you were at--uh--uh--Tributary Area Development was the relocation of an entire town.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen talks of the involvement of Tributary Area Development in the relocation of residents of Clinchport, Virginia due to numerous flooding incidents.

Keywords: Clinchport (Va.); Community development; Cuts; Dams; Flooding; LENOWISCO (Lee, Wise, Scott Counties and the city of Norton); Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Technical assistance; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Thomas Village; Voluntary relocation

Subjects: Lawyers; Relocation (Housing); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Virginia

GPS: Clinchport (Va.)
Map Coordinates: 36.674167, -82.747222
00:23:55 - Additional Tributary Area Development projects / TVA structure

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to mention one or two other projects.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen discusses different Tributary Area Development projects, some flood-related, and others involving small reservoirs. He expresses how TVA felt obliged to provide leadership which, he feels, contributed to planning nuclear power plants that were cancelled resulting in massive debt incurred by the TVA.

Keywords: Bear Creek Dam; Bear Creek Reservoir; Channels; Construction; Duffield (Va.); East Tennessee; Electricity crisis; Environment; Environmental assessments; Environmental laws; Expertise; Federal funds; Flexibility; Flood hazards; Fun; Funds; Impact statements; Industrial parks; LENOWISCO (Lee, Wise, Scott Counties and the city of Norton); Local development agency; Navigation flood control; Needs; Normandy (Tenn.); Normandy Dam; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Power supply; Projects; Streams; Structure; Tax proposals; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Trouble

Subjects: Barns; Columbia Dam (Tenn.); Cost; Dams; Debt; Elk River Watershed (Tenn. and Ala.); Farmers; Flooding; Hancock County (Tenn.); Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Lawyers; Leadership; Lexington (Tenn.); Natural disasters; Nuclear power plants; Reservoirs; Rural; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Volunteers; Water supply; Work

GPS: Columbia Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.615022, -87.044464
GPS: Normandy (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.452222, -86.258611
GPS: Duffield (Va.)
Map Coordinates: 36.719722, -82.7975
GPS: Hancock County (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.53, -83.22
GPS: Bear Creek Reservoir
Map Coordinates: 34.398611, -87.987778
00:31:15 - Work with World's Fair planning

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Partial Transcript: Alright, you were--uh--with--um--OTAD how long?

Segment Synopsis: Claussen recalls his time spent in the legal department of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Claussen describes some of the challenges of creating the infrastructure necessary for Knoxville to hold the fair.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Agreements; Bank financing; Construction; Dedicated; Impossible; Interchanges; Legal department; Legal work; Loaned executive; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Regulations; Relocation; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Vendors

Subjects: Budgets; Compliance; Contracts; Infrastructure; Knoxville (Tenn.); Lawyers; Liquidation; Monitoring; Paris (France); Planning; Property; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:34:38 - Work after World's Fair / Favorite aspects of TVA

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Partial Transcript: My last day I think was January 1st, '83.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen talks of his professional life following his departure from the TVA and the World's Fair. Claussen explains how he obtained his current position in the railroad industry. Additionally, Claussen lists his favorite moments and aspects he enjoyed the most from working at the TVA.

Keywords: Abandoned; Accomplishments; Agreement; Car insurance; Cars; Colleagues; Educated; Gulf and Ohio Railways; Idealistic; Impact statements; Inspiring; Irritation; Loans; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Perks; Position eliminated; Projects; Railroad industry; Red Wagner; South Central Tennessee Railroad; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Dickson County (Tenn.); Employees; Hohenwald (Tenn.); Lawyers; Lewis County (Tenn.); People; Perry County (Tenn.); Success; Talking; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Wayne County (Tenn.)

GPS: Hohenwald (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.547222, -87.551389
GPS: Dickson County (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.15, -87.36
00:39:02 - Work in the railroad industry

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--could you tell me a little bit about what--uh--this--uh--business focuses on...

Segment Synopsis: Claussen details his work in the railroad industry and how he became the CEO of his own railroad company.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Branches; Buying railroads; Chief executive officer (CEO); Contractors; Farmland; Gulf and Ohio Railways; Industrial sites; Interstate Commerce Commission; Kyle Railroad; Properties; Railroad industry; Rural communities; Small railroads; Staggers Rail Act; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Charlotte (N.C.); Chester (S.C.); Deregulation; Knowledge; Knox County (Tenn.); Knoxville (Tenn.); Lancaster (S.C.); Laurinburg (N.C.); Mt. Airy (N.C.); Railroads; Rural; Selling; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Winston-Salem (N.C.)

00:43:18 - S. David Freeman / Final thoughts about TVA

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Partial Transcript: Well, tell me about Dave Freeman.

Segment Synopsis: Claussen expresses his opinion over the tenure of TVA board leader S. David Freeman. Some issues with TVA board member structure are discussed. Secondly, Claussen shares his final thoughts on the TVA as a whole.

Keywords: Board members; Chairman; Directors; Electric power programs; Failure; Government; Mismanagement; Mistakes; No supervision; Nuclear investments; Nuclear power; Nuclear units; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); S. David Freeman; Structure; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Urban areas

Subjects: Budgets; Change; Debt; Electricity; Experience; Lawyers; Management; People; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work